Teacher Ronan Hickey striking at Ardscoil Eanna in Crumlin last year.

Source: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

'We're prepared to strike': Union to ballot secondary school teachers for industrial action

Teachers will be asked about industrial action and will also vote on whether they want to withdraw from supervision duties.
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Updated 19.31

THE LARGEST SECONDARY school teachers’ union has announced it will ballot members on industrial action, just a week into the new school term.

Members of the ASTI’s central executive committee met in Dublin today where it was agreed two separate ballots would be conducted.

The first will be on industrial action – up to and including strike action – over their pay and the second will be over measures applied to ASTI members following their rejection of the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

Their rejection meant an effectual pay freeze was imposed on them, preventing teachers from receiving salary increments they were due. It also resulted in non-payment of money due for supervision and substitution work and the removal or access to contracts of indefinite duration after two years for recently qualified teachers.

This second ballot will ask whether they are in favour of withdrawing from supervision and substitution duties.

‘Prepared to take strike action’

Speaking today, ASTI general secretary Kieran Christie said new and recently qualified teachers are faced with years of casual short-term contracts and an inferior level of pay for doing the exact same work as their colleagues.

Our goal is simple: we want equal pay for equal work. The message from our Central Executive Council today is that they are prepared to take strike action on this issue.

“As a trade union we must respond to this most serious escalation of this dispute by the Department. We must now give a strong message to the Government that this treatment is unacceptable,” the union’s president, Ed Byrne, commented.

‘Regrettable’

Minister for Education Richard Bruton said he was disappointed at the decision and reiterated his belief that continuing dialogue between his department and the union would be in the best interests of everyone.

“It is regrettable that ASTI seem determined to pursue a route of confrontation rather than dialogue,” his department said in a statement.

The Minister reiterated his department’s offer that if ASTI suspend their directive to withdraw from the Croke Park hours, then the department would suspend the implementation of measures associated with the rejection of the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

The minister believes that this would provide a more constructive context for talks to take place. It would also mean that thousands of ASTI teachers would receive the payment for supervision and substitution as well as other benefits and protections, under the Lansdowne Road agreement. ASTI previously refused this offer.

The two ballots will take place in the coming weeks, with results due by mid-October.

At today’s meeting the ASTI also decided to hold a lunchtime protest over reforms to the Junior Cycle. It said it is taking action to highlight concerns such as “the lack of an oral exam for modern languages and the lack of ordinary and higher level options in most subjects”.

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